Utah Valley women’s basketball finished their regular season with the highest seed in the programs history — second place. UVU faced off against Seattle University in the quarterfinals of the WAC tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada and were handed a 61-48 loss on Wednesday, March 11.
Between the two teams, the record was split at one game a piece, both winning on their home floors. The Wolverines started the series with a 70-58 win back in January, as part of their seven-game hot streak and a two-point decision resulted in SU splitting the series in early February.
The Wolverines never seemed to find their rhythm and only held the lead for three minutes of the game. In what resulted as a physical game between the Wolverines and Redhawks, what ultimately decided the game was the effort and speed shown by SU.
“I am proud, our girls kept fighting, it just wasn’t our night shooting the ball and didn’t execute like we needed to,” said UVU head coach Dan Nielson.
Rebounding, second chance points and points in the paint, all proved to be key factors in the Redhawks win. But, what the boxscore didn’t show, is that the Wolverines never gave up fighting. The scoring deficit didn’t reach double-digits until the start of the fourth quarter, when SU’s freshman forward Georgia Kehoe kissed the ball of the glass for a lay-up.
UVU would get within seven points thanks to a big push from senior guard Alexis Cortez, but that’s as close as the Wolverines would get. Cortez knocked down all seven of her points in that last effort push. She also went perfect 2-for-2 from the charity stripe and added two rebounds in potentially her last game in a Wolverine uniform.
Senior Jordan Holland and junior Eve Braslis, both forwards, each led the Wolverines with 13 points a piece. Holland struggled to knock down the shots while the clock was ticking, but went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.
“That doesn’t represent what we are as a team and what we can do,” said Braslis. “We’ve worked so hard, we went 1-for-9 at the start of the season and we worked to get to second place, to lose our first game in the tournament, it’s just not good enough.”
To start the season the Wolverines were projected to enter the WAC tournament in sixth place and SU was projected eighth.
“Our overall record is not at all where we want it to be,” said Nielson. “We had a lot of games down the stretch where we didn’t finish where we would like to. This game aside, we need to look at the big picture… I’m just extra proud of these guys for what they did.”
This trip to the WAC tournament resulted much in the same way as a year previous when the number four University of Missouri-Kansas City took down the number five Wolverines, 78-75.
On the bright side for the Wolverines, the young coaching staff of Nielson has a bright future ahead. Only three players will be leaving due to graduation and a talented team will continue to work hard to come back to Vegas next season to try and push past the first game hump.
Photo by Hunter Hall